Consumer Inkjet Design Language for Hewlett-Packard
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Setting the industry standard with recyclable printer materials
For decades, the use of metallic paints on consumer printers has been a key method of adding perceived value in the marketplace. Painting plastic housings not only distinguishes between high- and low-end within a product line, but also helps brands to visually differentiate from competitors. After 16 years of partnership, Hewlett-Packard (HP) approached IDEO to create a design language for a series of printers that would reduce the use of metallic paints and facilitate global advancements in the lifecycle and recycling of printers.
HP and IDEO began by extensively researching paint, plastics, and material lifecycles, ultimately choosing thermoplastic molding resins for their recyclability and ability to produce high-gloss white plastic. The sourcing of a new material solution led to the Consumer Inkjet Design Language (CIDL), an ecologically considered series of printers designed without the use of metallic paints. In addressing HP’s target audience of women aged 20-40 seeking a “creative” printer instead of a “work” printer, the line conveys approachability and playfulness through its softer radii, compact forms, and crisp color palette. The CIDL uses visual tension and material accents to create focal zones comprising an intuitive hierarchy of navigation, function, and mode buttons. Emphasis on interactive components such as latches, buttons, switches, and displays is made through form, color, and contrast levels between the functional areas. Subtle surface changes and transitions create the impression of a smaller footprint.
The CIDL provides the opportunity to influence the recyclability of the tens of millions of printers that HP will produce in the next four to five years. To take advantage of this opportunity, the designers needed to express and validate a new design feature that matched the perceived value of the metallic paint it was replacing, without additional cost. The use of white gloss plastic exceeded HP’s “recyclable material by weight” target and achieved better than 90% recyclability. As shown by the number of imitators that have entered the market since the inception of the CIDL, the use of non-painted metallic parts has widely caught on, suggesting a shift in industry practices that may lead to more sustainable products and processes.
Project date: 2008